Name: NEVILLE STEPHEN DeSOUZA Date of Birth: August 3 1932 Place of Birth: Assagao - now GOA Date of Death: March 16, 1980 Place of Death: ??? - Maharashtra Playing position: Striker Number of 'A' Internationals: ? 'A' Internationals Goals: ? CAREER: - Player: > 195?-5? Goan Sports Club - Bombay > 195?-5? Tata Sports Club - Bombay > 1958-5? Caltex - Bombay MISC: > 1956 Olympics: joint top scorer with four goals
Article appeared in the Mumbai sports weekly newspaper: "Foot Striker and Sports", Issue dated July 4-10, 2005.
"Who was the only Indian to score a hat-trick in Olympic football?" was the last question put to the contestant to fetch the grand prize of One Crore Rupees, in one of the episodes of the 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' Quiz show hosted by film superstar, Amitabh Bachchan. Names like PK Banerjee, Salian Manna and Sabhir Ali were the other three choices. The contestant from Kolkata was not sure of any and settled for 50 Lakh Rupees.
As television was not around when Neville was playing for India at the Olympics, and nor was video recording possible, people have no way of watching this late football greats' exploits at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Neville DeSouza's sterling display brought India to the pinnacle of glory, and to the very doorstep of an Olympic medal. Due to international political turmoil prevailing at the time, some of the teams withdrew from the Olympics at Melbourne in 1956, and thus India were given a direct entry into the quarter-final. India grabbed it with a sterling display when, on December 1, 1956, they sprang a surprise by beating the hosts Australia 4-2. India took the lead after 9 minutes through Neville's opportunistic header, but Australia's Morrow neutralised the lead within 8 minutes. Neville was once again at his opportunistic best in the 33rd minute, when goalkeeper Lord failed to collect cleanly from PK Banerjee. The resultant fumble was slammed in by Neville to give India the lead again. However, Morrow made it 2-2 when he beat the Indian goalkeeper SS Narayan. India dominated the second half and D'Souza quickly scored his hat-trick while Kittu completed the scoring in the 80th minute. Amazingly, India was then in the semi-final and in with a real chance of a medal. However, in the semi-final, India put a brave fight holding the mighty Yugoslavia to a goalless draw in the first half. India took the lead through Neville D'Souza, but eventually lost 4-1. It was a creditable scoreline, considering the massive 10-1 loss to the Yugoslavs at the 1952 Helsinki games. India were beaten 3-0 in the bronze medal play-off. Neville ended up as the top scorer of the tournament.
The Aussies who were beaten by the Indians called it a "fluke" and demanded a rematch, which India won, with Neville scoring twice. According to SS Narayan, an ex-Olympian, "Neville's control was so good that once the ball was in his possession, he was the absolute master. When on the move, his ability to dribble, feint, and his versatility were a delight to watch. He did not use power to score goals, rather his weapon was guile, placing the ball in such a way that goalkeepers had not a chance."
According to Dereyk, his brother, a former India and Mahindra coach, Neville also excelled in hockey and could have become a double international. "But football was his first love, and this is why he chose to concentrate on it". Neville's earlier years were dominated by his hockey exploits - first for St. Xavier's High School, then St. Xavier's College and then for Tata's for whom he brought the prestigious Beighton Cup from Calcutta in his very first year. He also toured East Africa in 1952 with Tata's, and scored 34 goals in 17 matches, and represented Bombay in the National hockey from 1953 to 1955.
Neville's football career began with Goan Sports Club before he joined Tata's. His first taste of international recognition was at the Asian quadrangular at Rangoon in 1954. A year later he led the Maharashtra State team in the Santos Trophy.The Caltex side of the 50s was one of the star attractions in domestic football, and in his very first year in 1958, he helped them to become the first civilian side from Bombay to win the Rovers Cup when they beat Sporting in the final.
After retiring in 1963 he took to coaching, and was on the selection panel of the All India Football Federation. "When you faced him inside the box, you couldn't do a thing. You felt as if you were mesmerised and he would beat you with the simplest of shots," said the famous goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj. Neville Stephen DeSouza, the Indian hat-trick hero of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, died of a heart attack in 1980.
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